Karate swoops into Canyon View’s gym

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CEDAR CITY – Athletes gathered in the Canyon View High School gymnasium Saturday for the Utah Summer Games karate competition, and one teenager stole the show.


There wasn’t much blood, and tears were held to a minimum, but the sweat was all real for Richie Carroll, 16. He broke a sweat and outlasted the competition, coming away with gold medals in board breaking and flag sparring during the morning rounds of the event.


“I like the competition here,” Carroll said of why he makes the annual trip to Cedar City from his home in Magna. “It’s fun and it gets my mind off of things.”


Carroll holds a green belt – two levels below black – and practices at Black Dragon Karate and Self Defense under Master Bill Nieves.


Nieves has been his instructor since he started at the age of 13 and gave him high praise after his two wins on Saturday morning.


“He’s with me 25 hours a week and helps me instruct,” Nieves said. “I honed him. He could be a world champion some day.”


The transformation over the past few years has been positive for Carroll, who said he’s not the same person he was when he started.


“When I first started I was kind of shy,” Carroll said. “But I’ve been doing it long enough now I feel like a leader. It’s boosted my self-confidence, and I’m not afraid to talk to people anymore.”


Nieves said he has been like a second father to Carroll and stated the way he helps strengthen his students is by treating them like family.


“We have a lot of retention by using praise and team support on each other,” Nieves said. “We act as a family. Everybody looks out for everybody.”


Carroll said the life skills he learned from karate starts with being there for others.


“You can learn how to protect yourself,” he said. “But if you see somebody in trouble or see someone being bullied, you can always go help them.”


Others agree that the attitude and persistence it takes to advance in karate builds a natural bridge to the strengthening of a person’s character, but the benefits reach a little farther.


“I think it teaches (kids) a lot of respect and self-discipline,” said Adam Burley, who brought his three sons from Salt Lake City for the first time to compete in the games. “But at the same time it’s good exercise and it’s good for their health.”


In addition to the physical activity, Burley said karate has helped with confidence building as well.


“We have one child who is a bit more timid and shy,” Burley said. “He’s starting to be more confident and come out with himself. Being part of the team also teaches the kids to look out for one another and build friendships.”



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